BluRay/DVD Reviews

HARLAN ELLISON: DREAMS WITH SHARP TEETH

By • Jun 2nd, 2009 •

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Long ago, at a SciFi convention in Long Island where I was a celebrity guest, Ellison was also in attendance. I approached him at one point and, in the spirit of friendship, offered him a video copy of my film, DOCUMENT OF THE DEAD. He grabbed it out of my hand and threw it into a nearby trash basket. My writing partner, Rocco, was ready to beat the shit out of him, but I was amused by the gesture. He later rescinded it and accepted the gift, though he probably never watched it.

Also, many years ago, and a few years after that incident, I was approached to produce a documentary about the combative writer, with his blessing apparently, but it never got off the ground. And that’s fine. I can’t imagine it having been better than DREAMS WITH SHARP TEETH, though it would have been vastly different, seeing as it would have been made just before, or in the early stages of, his long bout with Epstein Barr Syndrome, when he was a lean and mean writing machine.

In SHARP TEETH Ellison has put on quite a bit of weight, but still blusters and rages against everything, under the tolerant eye of his doting wife. The film is very much about language, and that’s wonderful. Along the way it touches on some of the contentious points of his volatile career, such as suing for credit on the original TERMINATOR after it opened, and winning. Although few people are as relentlessly rabid as Ellison, nonetheless it is a call to arms for all artists, to be on guard and prepared to engage in unending battle with the powers that be for the right to maintain their vision.

Their were a number of fine documentaries last year. One recalls MAN ON WIRE and TRUMBO as two that will endure. SHARP TEETH is up there with them, and probably exceeds them in the amount of energy it generates. If you’re prompted to catch up with a few of Ellison’s filmed works on DVD, check out CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER from the original Star Trek TV series, and DEMON WITH A GLASS HAND from the original Outer Limits TV series, both readily available wherever DVDs are sold or rented. DEMON is a bit too protracted for its own good, but that’s a problem related more to the running time of the episode than with the screenwriter’s brain-full of ideas.

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One Response »

  1. I had missed the Film Forum showing, but was able to see some clips from Youtube. Harlan has been one of my literary lions for 35 years. I’ve met him at several conventions, first when I was a skinny, wide-eyed teen, and latter when I was writing. He was and always has been a gentleman towards me, and as Alfred Bester once told me, wished he got along better with people in the film business, but the angry young, and now old man, has been part of his sthick

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